Daddy Clay: Daaaad. Mongolian barbecue is
so much better than teppanyaki. Todays episode of Quality Time is brought
to you by BabyBjorn. A veritable feast of European engineering. BabyBjorn. What’s more American than a birthday meal
out at a Japanese themed restaurant serving westernized food prepared right before your
eyes by a dude named Chava from Veracruz. Then discussed on a web show sponsored by
a Swedish baby gear company. Awsomeness. I’m pro taking the kids out to eat places
that force them to try new things. I think it’s important to encourage your
kids to eat a wide variety of foods. To reward them for trying new things and eating balanced
meals. I’m anti cooking the same things over and over, I’m anti cooking separate
meals for picky eaters. I’m anti different food or even place settings for kids and adults.
Ideally, everybody eats the same things off the same dishes. So when Mommy Octavia invited us to come share
a birthday dinner with the I-man at a local teppenyaki place, we loaded up the minivan
and rolled. Teppanyaki is a kind of Japanese steakhouse
that has almost become synonymous with one chain, Benihana. I love these places for a special outing with
the kids for several reasons. I’ve got a soft spot for Benihana, because
when I was a kid, there was no doubt about where we were going for my birthday dinners.
So there’s nostalgia. It’s one of the few places that offers distraction
and entertainment for the kids, while still offering decent food, and adult beverages
to the grownups. The entertainment is in the form of table
side preparation of the food. The whole table is a big griddle where the chef prepares fried
rice, vegetables, and steaks chicken or seafood. When I was a kid these chefs were food ninjas.
Lighting fast chopping, stuff on fire. The best elements of fine dining and cage fighting
combined. The good news is that there are a lot more of these kind of restaurants then
when I was a kid, bad news is that the talent pool has thinned a little bit. So the chef is a bit of a crap shoot. Try
asking for a good one when you make reservations. Play the birthday card like we did. Good ones
have great tricks, engage the kids, embrace being an entertainer. But even the not so
good ones keep the kids watching and can do the flaming Mount Fuji onion thing. I think of the food as healthy in that they
are using fresh whole ingredients and prepare everything in front of you, which is not to
say that it’s dietetic. Keep an eye on chef as he’s dolloping butter into the fried
rice. Livestrong says that stuff has 500 calories a cup and I believe them cause the stuff is
delicious. Ordering at one of these places generally
means picking your protein, kids choose steak, chicken or shrimp. Grownups have more options.
The meals come with salad or soup, a shrimp appetizer, veggies that usually include squash,
mushrooms and onions, your steak and white rice, fried rice is an add on. Authentic? Not really. You might find a teppanaki
place in Tokyo, but you probably wouldn’t recognize what’s on the hotplate. So what.
At least it’s different from what they are used to. Unless the wife talked you into that
grill table for your palace. The downside of teppanyaki is price. Private
chef for your table does not come cheap. Kid’s meals are generally around ten bucks. Grownups
are going to pay at least fifteen bucks for an entree and it goes straight up from there.
Filet Minon’s going to set you back 22. The fried rice is and extra 2 bucks a head.
Throw in drinks. Special occasions. If you live on a bigger
town, like Austin, you can save a couple of bucks a head by going with the off brand teppanaki.
Which we gladly do. Mongolian barbecue is generally cheaper, offers
the thrill of watching the ingredients cooked right in front of you, but the thrill is more
momentary. It’s like drive-by teppanyaki. Another downside of taking the kids out to
cool places is that they turn into little food snobs. Little mini foodies. Next thing
you know they’re watching “Throw Down with Bobby Flay” and saying things like:
“I know it’s Gruyere, but how long has it been aged?” That’s not good. If you have ideas about special places out,
ethnic foods that work with kids. Tell us what your birthday night out place is, and
the new DadLabs dot com. While you’re there pick up a copy of “DadLabs Guide to Fatherhood:
Pregnancy and Year One. Cause you know a dude that needs the help. Thanks to our sponsors, BabyBjorn. A veritable
of cornucopia of dad friendly design. BabyBjorn. We’ll see you next time, on Quality Time.